Speaker: Dr Tim Ballard (UQ) – Decision Making
Topic: Motivation and Decision Making during Goal Pursuit: A Bayesian Cognitive Modelling Analysis
Abstract: The goal construct is one the appears in many areas of psychology. Yet until recently, little progress had been made toward a general theory of goal pursuit. In this talk, I present a program of research in which we use empirical studies in conjunction with Bayesian cognitive modelling to make progress toward such a theory. The most recent instantiation of this theory, referred to as the extend multiple-goal pursuit model (MGPM*), explains how people make prioritisation decisions whilst simultaneously managing multiple goals. This cognitive architecture provides a formal explanation for a range of empirical phenomena such as variability in prioritisation over time, across individuals, and as a function of whether goals require approach vs avoidance. It also accounts for the effects of uncertainty, incentives, goal importance, and difficulty. Here, I address the issue of generality, by attempting to identify empirical phenomena that the MGPM* cannot account for that a "general" theory should be able to explain. I present several studies showing that the MGPM* in its current form is unable to account for certain effects of deadline. I compare the current model to a series of theoretically defensible variants to determine which additional assumptions are necessary in order for the MGPM* to explain these effects.
Bio: Timothy Ballard is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Psychology at The University of Queensland. Tim's research sits at the intersection of organisational and cognitive psychology. His main areas of interest are motivation and decision making. A core aim is understanding how people select courses of action when faced with competing goals in dynamic and uncertain environments. Tim is also interested in research methods, in particular formal/computational modelling and Bayesian statistics. Tim has published in journals such as Journal of Applied Psychology, Annual Review of Organizational Psychology & Organizational Behavior, and Global Environmental Change.